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NCU President's Message - Spring 2016
A number of months have passed since my inaugural message as President of the NCU and since then I have had the pleasure of enjoying a number of cricketing experiences.
This year began with a family holiday to South Africa the highlight for us all being the first three days of the second Test between South Africa and England at Newlands Cape Town. I had heard that Newlands is one of the most beautiful cricket grounds in the world and without doubt it lived up to expectation. Not only a beautiful setting, with Table Mountain as a back drop, but the cricket was stunning as well. Ben Stokes going in to bat on a hat trick produced a remarkable, sometimes outrageous record breaking innings of 258 in a partnership of 399 with Jonny Bairstow who hit a maiden Test century of 150 not out. I doubt I have or will ever again see such a brutally destructive innings outscoring the run rate at a Big Bash T/20 match taking place at Melbourne.
It is somewhat ironic that in the last over of the T/20 World Cup final Ben Stokes was on the receiving end of a Carlos Braithwaite assault as his fourth six in a row sailed into the air to snatch victory for the West Indies.
If ever an example of the highs and lows of cricket. A great leveller and a microcosm of life.
Competitive cricket at the highest level played in a wonderful spirit. Something that should and can be emulated at all levels of cricket.
Returning home I was delighted to receive an invitation to attend Carrickfergus CC's launch of their new pink kit and the link up with Pretty in Pink as their charity partner. A wonderful initiative which will this summer bring a splash of colour to cricket grounds in the NCU Cup competitions whilst at the same time raising funds for the breast cancer charity.
I was also delighted to attend the Cliftonville Hall of Fame Dinner with Andy Clement the NCU Chairman enjoying the generous hospitality on offer and guest speaker Kyle McCallan's humorous and heartfelt recollections of his time at Cliftonville. Five long serving members of Cliftonville namely 1945-1972 Geoff Gaily & John Shaw; 1972-1990 Jimmy Munn; 1990 – Present Andrew Patterson & Brian Anderson received the honour of being elected into the Cliftonville Hall of Fame.
A few days later I was at the CSN "A Night at the Dogs" fund raiser at Drumbo Park. The event proved a huge success enjoyed by all attending with £1,000 being donated to both Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund and Sport Changes Life.
Meantime while I was enjoying myself the Cricket Ireland administrators have been busy preparing the Strategic Plan for the next 5 years. Before the public launch this week Warren Deutrom CEO and Ross McCollum Chairman of CI presented the Strategic Plan to the NCU Clubs at the recent, very successful, NCU Club Life Development Weekend.
Building on Irelands International successes Cricket Ireland have in the last 4 years concentrated their efforts on creating a bridge between club and country by establishing the Interprovincial series and the senior and junior academies. Cricket Ireland now however want to integrate all parts of the Irish cricket landscape by reconnecting with cricket clubs placing them at the heart of its focus for grass roots development and become a governing body that develops cricket from playground to the Test arena. Thus the title of Cricket Irelands Strategic Plan "Making Cricket Mainstream".
The NCU is already helping drive this initiative by not only employing a Cricket Development Officer whose duties shall include working alongside clubs in a development role; promoting cricket at public events, introducing cricket to non-traditional areas and minority groups; assess clubs needs to provide Coaching support/Clinics/Workshops and training and assist clubs in organisation and arrangements for their individual Kwik Cricket Festivals.
The NCU also ran at the beginning of April a very successful Club Life Development weekend. The first day concentrating on Growing Your Club "Boardroom to Boundary" with the following day concentrating on Play Smart Coaching "Player Centred Approach".
All Clubs attending benefited from the workshops and coaching sessions. Anyone attending Svend Elkjaer's talk on Growing Your Club will have enjoyed a thoroughly entertaining time but more importantly leave with simple and practical ideas on how to encourage volunteers into your club and organise enjoyable fund raising events. I hope you didn't miss out.
Congratulations to the NCU and CI representatives for organising this very successful event. Well worth the considerable effort put in by the organisers and much appreciated by all those attending.
At the beginning of this article I mentioned the wonderful cricket series between SA and England which was fiercely competitive but played with obvious respect for the opposition and umpires. The players smiled, entertained and gave every impression of enjoying the matches setting a marvellous example to us all. I hope NCU schools and clubs will emulate the players at the top of the game.
With the first weekend of the new season upon us I would therefore encourage all Captains to again read the Preamble to the Laws of Cricket (https://www.lords.org/mcc/laws-of-cricket/preamble-to-the-laws) and to remind their players of the contents. Without losing any competitiveness I can assure all that playing within the Spirit of the Game will make your involvement, that of your opposition and the umpires all the more enjoyable.
Wishing you all a sunny successful season ahead.
PS. Twitter feed: @NCUPres
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